These past few days I’ve thought a lot about what kind of stories tug at a person’s emotional chords. This is mostly because I write hard stories to encourage people to give to nonprofits.
Earlier this week, I was looking at statistics on hunger in America. It truly hurt my heart thinking about how these aren’t just numbers I’m looking at, but people.
- One out of every 7 Americans struggle with hunger.
- In Mississippi, 1 of 4 people has little or nothing to eat.
These numbers in Mississippi have stuck with me all week. In an office space that holds about 30 people, you could be looking at almost 8 people who struggle with hunger.
These numbers are devastating. I thought to myself, “How could we ignore this?”
But today I was reminded of my own lack of awareness and oblivion just a few months ago. I had driven up to Charlotte, North Carolina for a weekend vacation. Before leaving, I stopped for a cup of coffee.
I was sitting in front of a large window facing a bus stop. I had just snapped a picture of my coffee to send to one of my friends, but when I took a closer look at the photo, a pink jacket stood out to me. I looked up and saw the woman who was wearing the pink jacket.
She was thin, and much older. Her faded Hello Kitty jacket was clearly meant for a child. There was a group of young men blowing smoke beside her. She was holding her face, probably coughing. Or maybe she was cold — it was a cold day.
I watched her walk inside and ask one of the baristas if she could have a cup of coffee. From the corner of my eye, I watched him shake his head no. She sat down empty-handed, and I listened to the staff whisper about whether or not to escort her out
A nudging voice inside of me told me to sit with her. For ten minutes, I fiddled with my phone and nervously watched her until I decided I had to talk to her.
Her name was Nancy and when I asked to buy her a cup of coffee, she told me she was hungry.
I shared lunch with her that day, but then I left and didn’t think about Nancy until this morning.
There are real people struggling with hunger in the United States and across our communities. Not just the homeless, but working adults who can’t always afford meals for their families when times get hard.
It was so easy for me to move Nancy to the back of my mind, but when I look at statistics on food insecurity, all I can see is her face. One out of every 4 people in Mississippi is Nancy.
And we’ve got to show them kindness.